Why go on a women-only vacation?
- It's a great way try out challenging activities in a non-competitive environment: Many women, particularly more mature women who grew up before women's sports were widely available, feel more empowered to participate in challenging activities without men around. It's no surprise then that the majority of women-only vacation providers focus on adventure and outdoors travel.
"With women-only tours, women are trying more adventure travel because they get the chance to do the hard work and learn new skills, whereas when men and women travel together, the men usually do the hard jobs of portaging the canoes, setting up camp, that sort of thing," says Hannon. "Now women are proving to themselves that they can do the challenging work too."
Being athletic and trying out new activities in a non-competitive atmosphere is also a bonus. "Women experience the outdoors differently [than men], and they tend to want to enjoy the experience and not worry about who is getting to their destination the fastest," says Susan Eckert, founder of the tour company AdventureWomen.
- It's a safe and affordable choice for women traveling by themselves: If you don't have a traveling partner for whatever reason—you're single, divorced, widowed, or prefer traveling on your own—or your partner is too busy or not interested in going on the sort of trip you'd like, women-only group vacations can provide you with a sense of security. "For many women who have never ventured out alone, safety is the driving force," says Williamson. "I find so many women who are afraid to travel alone or without a man, and I say, 'try a tour first.'"
If you do go alone on a women-only trip, you likely won't be the only one; many women's travel companies report significant numbers of solo travelers on their vacations. "You're more likely to find plenty of other solo travelers on a women's trip—we average about 75 percent solo travelers," says Deanna Keahey, founder of the Adventurous Wench tour company.
Because of the large number of single-women travelers, most women-only travel companies don't charge a single supplement. Unless you want private lodgings, you'll most likely be matched up with a roommate to share a double room, unless you want private accommodations.
- It's a way to celebrate milestones and rejuvenate after major life events: "I think travel has become a ritual of sorts for women, a coming of age that women are using to mark the special occasions in their lives," says Hannon. In addition to using women-tours to celebrate positive milestones like upcoming weddings, new jobs, and graduations, women are also traveling as a way to rejuvenate themselves after difficult life events. "Travel can mark a fresh start. We're now seeing women traveling after a divorce or after the death of a husband," says Hannon.
- There's a special type of bonding that takes place in women-only groups: Women who've been on female-only trips tend to find that there is a more open and creative dynamic than in co-ed groups, and it's easier to make friends.
"When you're with all women, you can talk freely about a lot of topics that you may not otherwise be able to in a mixed crowd—things you're going through physically, mentally, psychologically, at work, at home, with family, alone," says Joanne Marshall, a traveler who's been on two trips with the women-only adventure tour company Canyon Calling. "The bonding that can happen in such a short time comes from spending 24 hours a day together, day after day, with like-minded women."
- You get to focus on yourself, not your family or work: "As a woman in your daily life, you are constantly multitasking which doesn't allow you to think about yourself and your needs," says Hannon. "But when you travel, all that gets shut off—there are no more kids or bosses that need your attention, and no more Internet or phones. It's the best therapy. You're allowing your mind to be free so you can think about yourself and where you are going."
Besides self-reflection, going on a women-only trip can allow you to do the things you really like, whether they be antique shopping or horseback riding, something that might not be possible when you're trying to keep your spouse and kids happy. "We all know that women have a tendency to enjoy some things that most men or their children don't," says Cathy Miller, who's traveled with Gutsy Women Travel. "It's also a terrific way to meet future traveling companions with similar interests."